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Lynn M. Walding, Administrator


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 e - NEWS

July 18, 2003


1. Alcohol Retailers May Face Changes in Law

2. Bars Prep for 19-Only Onset

3. Union May Lose Liquor License for 30 Days

4. Iowa State Hoops Team Plagued by Alcohol, Drug Violations

5. Taking the Bull by the Horns in IC

6. Can Miller Beer Survive The Mess It's In?

7. Import Invasion Heats up Beer Wars

8. Unreleased Teen Drinking Report Draws Charges of Bias


1. Alcohol Retailers May Face Changes in Law

By Dan Eshelman – Daily Nonpareil

July 18, 2003



COUNCIL BLUFFS - Proposed changes to Iowa's dram shop law were discussed during a public forum conducted in Council Bluffs Thursday by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission.

The session was one of a series that the panel has scheduled to review the statute, which concerns the liability that businesses incur when they serve alcohol to individuals who may later be involved in accidents that cause personal injuries to others.

"What we're considering is reforming the law, not repealing it," said Lynn Walding, administrator of the commission. "We're gathering information and will make recommendations to the governor and the Legislature. They will then have the option to take action on what we proposed, or on alternative plans."

Attending Thursday's forum were business owners and operators, and representatives of the Iowa Hospitality Association.

One issue of contention in proposals for reforming the law is whether it should be applied to retail establishments that sell alcohol, but that, technically, do not serve it to customers.

Paul Trostel, chairman of the board of the IHA, noted that convenience stores, gas stations and other carry-out businesses are not required to have dram shop insurance.

He said people who may be injured by a drunk driver can sue only businesses where alcohol is served on-site, even though the driver may have purchased other alcoholic beverages at a retail establishment.

"Those who sell cold beer or cold wine should share in the risk and be required to carry the insurance," said Trostel, who is also a business owner and a board member of the National Restaurant Association.

Dawn Carlson, an official with the Petroleum Marketing and Convenience Stores of Iowa, said her group opposed such a requirement.

"We don't feel our stores should be drawn in to the dram shop coverage," she said. "What we sell isn't meant for consumption on the premises of the establishment."

Walding said the matter of equity in the requirements for insurance is "one of the major components involved in consideration of reforms in the law."

The commission, through its administrative authority, has already increased mandatory levels of insurance coverage for businesses currently subject to the law.

Starting Sept. 1, the minimum amount that establishments must have will rise from $25,000 to $150,000.

With the increased coverage will come higher premiums, a development that could have a financial impact on some bars and restaurants.

"It's going to be especially difficult for smaller businesses to absorb higher premium expenses," said Fred Miller, owner of a bar in Avoca. "With other costs going up at the same time, it's tough to have to pay more for insurance."

Trostel said dram shop rates, at present, are based on alcohol sale receipts at a bar or restaurant, meaning businesses that charge more for their drinks usually pay higher insurance rates.

A better method for calculating rates, he said, would be to base them on the amount of alcohol purchased by establishments that serve beverages on the premises.

Trostel also said a surcharge could be levied on alcoholic beverages to create a fund, or monetary pool, that could be used to pay claims to third-party victims of drunk drivers, thereby reducing dram shop insurance rates for affected businesses.

Carlson expressed doubt that such a fund would remain exclusively for that purpose.

She cited the example of a state fund initiated to pay for the cleanup of environmental damage from underground fuel storage tanks.

"The legislature took money from that fund to pay for other programs," she said. "There's no guarantee that wouldn't happen to a dram insurance fund."

The commission is considering other possibilities for limiting a large increase in rates. They include prohibiting premature settlements, requiring litigation of unfounded or illegal claims and reducing payouts by training servers - through incentives - how to avoid providing alcohol to individuals whose continued drinking may pose a safety hazard.

Changes in the way insurance companies rate the risk surrounding dram shop coverage are also being contemplated, such as excluding off-premise sales made by on-premise licensees from rating schedules, and prohibiting rate increases and cancellations when claims are unfounded.

Banning "all you can drink" specials has been proposed as well, along with prohibiting advertising of promotional activities, stopping the sale of alcoholic beverages for less than cost and ending single can sales.

Walding said dram shop law reform will have to address the effect that the state's recently implemented .08 blood alcohol level as the legal definition for driving while intoxicated could have on sales and consumption.

"The result could be that more people will decide to drink at home, rather than going to a business and being served on the premises," he said.

The commission will conduct another public forum in August, then compile a position statement for submission to the governor and the general assembly.




2. Bars Prep for 19-Only Onset

By Kent Nguyen - The Daily Iowan

July 16, 2003


IOWA CITY - With the onset of the 19-only era looming - Aug. 1 - the level of preparation varies among downtown bars, from installing new marking systems to hiring fresh faces.

In addition to whatever changes individual bar owners may make, the new regulation stipulates that bars must have a bright orange sign posted at each entrance letting patrons know that anyone under the age of 19 is not allowed on the premises between the hours of 10 p.m. and closing and that violation could result in a $250 fine for the patron.

George Barlas, the owner of the Union Bar, 121 E. College St., has hired two new employees to remove "people caught possessing alcohol," whereas, in the past, a minor would only have her or his drink taken away.

Despite the inconveniences of complying with the new ordinance, Barlas said, he welcomes the changes.

"It will give [the freshmen] time to get acclimated to college life," he said of the ordinance, which the City Council passed May 6.

Other than posting the sign or getting an exemption and making sure that individuals younger than 19 are not on the property, bar owners are not required to make any extra changes.

The Sports Column, 12 S. Dubuque St., has already executed most of the changes it intends to make. Three days after the City Council passed the ordinance, the establishment changed its entry age to be in compliance.

Basically, if we're going to have to do it, we might as well acclimate our clientele to the ordinance," said Robbie Uchida, the Sports Column general manager.

Once more students return to campus, he said, the bar plans on employing a wristband system to supplement its stamp system, making it easier for the employees to differentiate between those of legal age and minors, Uchida said. He said he also plans to take advantage of the free Training Intervention Procedures for Servers of Alcohol program, which is provided by Iowa City police.

Although Bo James, 118 E. Washington St., raised its admittance age to 21 last fall, owner Leah Cohen said she plans on putting her employees through the training as well.

Police Officer R.A. Mebus, the police director of community relations and one of the trainers in the program, no bar owners had signed up as of last week.

The training, which will help employees better identify fake IDs and minors, will also help the bars keep from being fined for infractions of the ordinance. City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said fining the establishments is more complicated than fining individual patrons.

Having a minor on the premise would constitute a violation of city code, which could carry fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for the third, in addition to liquor license sanctions, Dilkes said.

"It is not the intention to charge the bar every time a minor is caught in the bar," she said, adding that establishments would be sanctioned if there appeared to be a pattern that they were not taking reasonable steps to make sure persons under the age of 19 were not on the premises after 10 p.m.

In regards to measuring the effectiveness of the ordinance, Dilkes referred to a memorandum she sent to the City Council, which outlined the procedures for evaluating the ordinance.

City staff members will gather statistics on the number of Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age citations, charges issued from Aug. 1, 2002, through July 31 and the charges issued to individuals under 19. The same process will be completed for the period of Aug. 1 through July 31, 2004. The two sets of statistics will be compared and sent to the council for evaluation.

Statistics on other charges such as OWI, public intoxication, and open container will also be collected and evaluated.








3. Union May Lose Liquor License for 30 Days

By Laura Holmes - The Daily Iowan

July 15, 2003

IOWA CITY - After two stings in 2002, the Union Bar may have its alcohol license suspended for 30 days, according to officials from the Licensing Section of the Alcohol Beverages Division.

Margaret LeMarche, an administrative law judge in the Department of Inspections and Appeals, has proposed that the Union Bar, 121 E. College St., be given a 30-day alcohol-license suspension and a $1,500 fine for selling alcohol to a minor.

During the first sting, April 20, 2002, the minor received a wristband and hand stamp indicating the minor was over 21 and was served alcohol by a bartender. Although this charge was dismissed, the same minor was used for another sting on May 19, 2002, in which the minor received no hand stamp or wristband but was still served alcohol by a bartender.

Either the bar or the Alcohol Beverages Division can appeal this decision by July 30.

"The suspension period is not usually allowed during the summer period if the violation was committed during the school year," said Lynn Walding, the alcohol-agency administrator, adding that he will make an appeal to determine the appropriate length and date of the suspension.





4. Iowa State Hoops Team Plagued by Alcohol, Drug Violations

By Dave Sprau - Iowa State Daily

July 7, 2003


(U-WIRE) AMES - The recent problems some Iowa State University men's basketball players and former head coach Larry Eustachy have encountered involving alcohol and drugs is nothing new to college athletics. Nor is it unique among the overall student population, administrators said.


ISU Athletics Director Director Bruce Van De Velde said June 25 he would seek to bring in a substance abuse counselor to deal with these issues among the athletes, particularly after four members of the basketball team were cited in the past five months for drug and alcohol-related violations.


An official at a national center that works with colleges to prevent substance abuse among students said in an email message the prevailing attitude on campus needs to be addressed as part of a broader solution, along with substance abuse counseling.


"The campus environment is shaped by many things that relate to alcohol and other drug consumption," said Helen Stubbs, communications director for the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention in Newton, Mass.


The center is funded mostly by the Department of Education.


"Once administrators and others ... start to examine these issues, they can then identify problem areas and look to address them through research-based strategies and activities," she said.


Sara Kellogg, program director for Iowa State's substance abuse and violence prevention program, said her department sponsors "Iowa State After Dark," a series of nine alcohol-free social events. She said the program also provides funds for student organizations that want to hold similar activities.


"It's a program in which we provide up to $500 in mini-grants for alcohol-free activities," she said.


Kellogg said her office is involved in educating athletic teams and has spoken to members of the athletic department regarding recent efforts to address their substance abuse problems.


"The athletic department has contacted our office and discussed some of the things that need to be done," she said. "They are looking for both short and long-term solutions to provide a safer environment."


The promotion and advertisement of alcohol on campus is another issue, Stubbs said. She said it can support the perception that drinking is a normal part of college life.


"Student newspapers, campus bulletin boards and kiosks are often plastered with ads offering low-priced drink specials at nearby establishments," Stubbs said. "Some ads in college newspapers promote heavy drinking, offering deeply discounted drinks, using women to attract male drinkers, announcing price increases as the evening progresses or offering students all-they-can-drink for a single, low price."


In March, the Ames (Iowa) City Council approved a ban on all-you-can-drink promotions.


Kim Smith, professor of journalism and communication, said he does not see a problem with student-oriented media, such as the Iowa State Daily, accepting advertisements from bars.


"I have no trouble with any kind of business advertising a product that's legal," he said. "The real issue is educating students to understand that alcohol in and of itself isn't the problem. It's how they use the product that is the issue."


Smith said liquor advertising in general is contributing to students abusing alcohol.


"Alcohol advertising tends to associate alcohol with having a good time," he said. "In fact, in many instances, too much alcohol contributes to a very bad time."


In addition to Iowa State's restrictions on alcohol sales and consumption on campus, liquor is not sold at university athletic events. Stubbs said such a ban can be effective, especially when combined with other efforts to limit alcohol consumption at sports venues.


"Reducing the availability of alcohol through a ban on alcohol sales is often supported by other measures, such as banning tailgating at events, instituting a no-readmittance policy to fans and stringently checking bags and containers that fans bring into games," she said.


Stubbs added that faculty and staff members can unwittingly contribute to an environment that accepts alcohol abuse.


"Faculty who accept or make light of Friday class absences due to ... students partying on Thursday nights and [faculty] who do not schedule tests or papers on Fridays or Mondays are tacitly supporting the overconsumption of alcohol by students," she said.


"It is important that faculty and staff realize that what they say and do can send a message, either a healthy and responsible message, or one that promotes consumption and high-risk use by students."


Stubbs said many colleges have worked to reduce alcohol abuse on campus by promotion of alcohol-free recreational opportunities. She said schools have extended the hours at student unions, gyms and cafes. Stubbs also said the off-campus availability of alcohol is another aspect of the issue that needs to be addressed.


"How many bars and liquor stores are in the area?," she said. "Are they stringently following the minimum legal drinking age?"


Smith said he thinks issues with athletes and the law reflect campuswide issues, not necessarily just internal problems with the program.


"I think it's important to know that it's not just athletes on campus who have trouble with substance abuse problems," Smith said. "I think everyone needs to be more sensitive to their consumption of alcohol and their promotion of alcohol in their own lives and other people's lives."



5. Taking the Bull by the Horns in IC

By Stacey Rossman - The Daily Iowan

July 8, 2003


IOWA CITY - The popular Red Bull energy drink, which contains a large amount of caffeine and amino acids, has been a hit with the early 20s crowd since its arrival in the United States in 1997. Despite warnings of its dangerous side effects, Red Bull consumers cannot get enough of it - especially when it is mixed with alcohol.

Red Bull, which was first produced in Austria in 1987 and is distributed in 70 countries, is now banned in France, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, according to a July 2001 press release issued by Red Bull following the deaths of three Swedish Red Bull consumers.

In the press release, Red Bull officials said they are "certain that the alleged consumption of Red Bull Energy Drink has no connection whatsoever with the cause of death of these three young people" and "any harmful effects are generally connected to that of the alcohol."

Although the three deaths sparked an investigation by the Swedish National Food Administration in 2001, Swedish officials have not released any information proving that Red Bull directly caused any of the three deaths.

"Because alcohol is a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant, they both have effects on the central nervous system," said Kathy Mellen, a UI Student Health Service dietitian. "When mixed together, [they] can alter people's perceptions about how drunk they really are, especially for someone who does not usually drink caffeine."

Experts may say there are reasons to think twice about mixing Red Bull and alcohol, but many Iowa City bar patrons continue to order, make, and drink the mixture.

UI junior Dustin Willard said he does not hesitate to mix Red Bull with alcohol because the combination has not had a negative effect on him.

"I like the alert feeling it gives," he said.

That "alert feeling" is an effect from the 80 mg of caffeine in each 8.3 oz. can of Red Bull, Mellen said, adding that this feeling may cause people to think they are sober enough to drink more than they can handle. They might even feel confident enough to drive.

Chris Dilillo, a former bartender at the Union Bar, 121 E. College St., said he hasn't encountered any negative effects of drinking Red Bull mixed with alcohol - neither as a consumer nor as a server.

"The people drinking Red Bull and vodka don't get any drunker than the people drinking Captain and Coke," he said.

Coke contains considerably less caffeine than Red Bull - 35 mg of caffeine in each 12 oz. can - but the same rules apply when mixed with alcohol, Mellen said.

"Actually, 80 mg of caffeine is less than a cup of coffee," she said. "It only becomes dangerous when you mix the caffeine with alcohol."







6. Can Miller Beer Survive The Mess It's In?

By Al Ries – AdAge.com

July 7, 2003

Despite 'Catfight,' Lite Sales Drop 2.5% This Year

Well the numbers are in and they're exactly what you might have expected. In spite of all the media attention to its "Catfight" commercial, Miller Lite sales fell 2.5% this year.

Despite recent campaigns of sex ads, Miller's sales continue to slide.


Miller's 'Catfight' commercial sparked debate but not sales.

Pamela Anderson's bedroom antics don't appear to be helping Miller sales, either.


What's killing Miller are those line extensions: Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Reserve, Miller Reserve Light, Miller Reserve Amber Ale -- not to mention the many other flavors that have carried the Miller name (including such losers as Miller Clear and Miller Regular beer).


Light beer trend

In the jockeying for position in the beer industry, two trends are apparent. One is the trend to light beer. The largest-selling beer in America is not Budweiser but Bud Light, which passed its full-calorie sibling in 2001.


As far as beer leadership is concerned, the game is over and Bud Light has won. The brand outsells the next two light beers, Coors Light and Miller Lite, combined.


Miller Lite losing

The second trend is not as clear-cut. In the battle for second place, Miller Lite is losing out to challenger Coors Light. Every year, Coors Light keeps increasing its lead, which is currently at 7%.

It's difficult to challenge a leader. It's almost impossible to challenge a leader with a family of brands. Miller needs to put all of its resources behind one brand -- and that one brand is obviously Miller Lite.


Perceptions do linger. Two of the perceptions associated with the Miller brand are "Tastes great, less filling" and "Miller Time." Miller should select one of these ideas to promote its Miller Lite brand.



But which one?


"Tastes great, less filling" is a generic idea that applies equally as well to any light beer. If you like beer, then all light beers taste great and are less filling. Furthermore, the slogan didn't build the brand. The brand built the slogan. It was the roaring success of Lite beer, the first light beer to leap into the mind, that made people remember the slogan.


'Miller Time'

The reverse is true for the "Miller Time" idea. At the time, the No. 2 brand, Schlitz, was declining. Miller Brewing then relaunched Miller High Life with a "reward for a hard day's work" theme. TV ads showed farmers, factory workers, construction men heading to the bar after a hard day on the job. At 5 o'clock, it's Miller Time.


Miller sales took off. By 1979, Budweiser's lead over Miller High Life was cut to only 21%. Miller was the strong No. 2 brand. (Miller High Life and Miller Lite together actually outsold Budweiser by 16%.)

Then the effects of line extension struck. Miller Lite went up and Miller High Life went down, the classic symptoms of line extension disease. From a high of 23.6 million barrels in 1979, Miller High Life sunk to 5.3 million barrels last year. (For all practical purposes, Miller High Life is out of the game.)


Pathetic execution

From time to time, Miller has attempted to revive its "Miller Time" slogan, but the execution has been pathetic.


Furthermore, there are verbal slogans and there are action slogans. "The real thing" is a verbal slogan. Consumers instantly get the idea that Coca-Cola is the original and that other brands are imitations.


"Miller Time" is an action slogan. It has little meaning without the action that takes place before the viewer hears the slogan. It needs the buildup of a hard day's work to make the emotional connection with having a beer at 5 o'clock.


'Catfight' as new idea

The question often arises in situations such as Miller's: Why should we limit ourselves to what's already in the mind? Surely there must be a new idea out there someplace that will turn the brand around. (Hence, Catfight.)


Wishful thinking. When a brand has been on the market as long as Miller has (148 years), when a brand has been advertised as heavily as Miller has (last year Miller Brewing spent $459 million), it's wishful thinking to believe you can find a new idea that will move the needle. An old idea with a new twist? Maybe. But a totally new idea? No.


"Miller, the smooth beer." What, Miller has been brewing beer for 15 decades and somebody just noticed it's a smooth beer? The slogan sounds phony.


Is it too late to clean up the mess at Miller? Will Miller go the way of Schlitz? By coincidence, Schlitz Light was the second light beer on the market, a line extension move that failed to halt the decline of the Schlitz brand.


Only time will tell.



7. Import Invasion Heats up Beer Wars

By Michael McCarthy - USA TODAY

July 2, 2003


NEW YORK — The image persists of the target beer consumer as Buckboard Buddy with a six-pack, shotgun and pickup. But the world's biggest brewers are spending millions this July Fourth holiday to take aim at more upscale consumers: the import beer drinker.


That's because growth for the $60 billion U.S. beer industry is not in cheap suds but in high-end imports and light beers. The overall beer market grew only 1.4% in 2002, but import beer sales grew 6% while domestics eked out a 0.7% rise, according to the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C. Imports now take an estimated 11% share of the U.S. market.


That's why longtime domestic beer giants Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller's Miller Brewing are taking aim at the 25- to 34-year-old, mostly urban consumers who prefer Euro-style imports such as Heineken and Guinness over Budweiser and Miller.


A-B, the world's largest brewer, is rolling out a new import fighter called Anheuser World Select that it bills as "world class beer" developed by 10 brewmasters from around the world. This "continental pilsner" succeeds Michelob as A-B's top-tier beer.


"What World Select does is provide an alternative to those high-end beers that are out there," says Pat McGauley, A-B's director of high-end brands. "And it's made in America."

  Top 10 imports


Shipped barrels1

Corona Extra




Labatt Blue




Guinness Stout


Amstel Light






Modelo Especial




1 — In thousands, excluding import non-alcohol brands. One barrel is equivalent to 13.77 cases.

Source: Beer Marketer's Insights



Meanwhile, Miller is ramping up U.S. distribution of its Pilsner Urquell import brand, a 151-year old Czech beer. What "distinguishes" it from other U.S imports, such as Stella Artois from Belgium, is that it's also a premium brand in its home markets, says Pat Moertl, director of imports for Miller Brewing.


"Consumers are looking for brands with distinctive products and imagery — and they're willing to pay more for them," he says.


The import invasion by A-B and Miller sets up a showdown with Heineken USA, which markets Heineken and Amstel Light in the USA. While Heineken has lost its crown as the best-selling import to Corona Extra, it's still the prime target for A-B. The St. Louis brewer has a financial stake in Corona brewer Modelo in Mexico so it shares in Corona's success.



Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer's Insights, believes Anheuser World Select (packaged in a green rather than brown bottle) is "clearly aimed at Heineken." And it gives A-B another weapon to add to its most powerful import-fighter so far: the low-carb Michelob Ultra brand.


Heineken spokesman Dan Tearno says the company is "flattered by the attention" and ready to fight. "They want what we have," he says.


It's no accident that the beer wars are heating up for summer: Nearly 40% of beer is sold in the four months of May through August, according to the Beer Institute. Details:


Making it a world war. A-B is rolling out Anheuser World Select initially in 10 markets — and not just in the USA: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, Hawaii, the New Jersey Shore, London, Hong Kong and Newport, R.I. Ad agencies Hill Holliday in Boston and Jefferson Studios in St. Louis will position it in the USA as a world beer that combines the flavor of an import with the freshness of a domestic. The slogan: "Ten Brewmasters. Four Continents. One Beer."


The Pilsner that started it all. Miller will position Pilsner Urquell as the "original pilsner" that changed beer tastes. It is rolling it out in eight import-friendly U.S. markets: New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver and Seattle. Ads from Ogilvy & Mather in New York ask: "Have you tried the Pilsner that invented Pilsner?"


Younger and hipper? Heineken will make a hip pitch for 21- to 25-year-old consumers, says Brian Citron, assistant brand manager. The brewer is rolling out a sleek, limited edition, aluminum bottle dubbed "H2" that will go into nightclubs in New York, Miami and Boston. It plans a "Heineken Hoax" promotion on its Web site where consumers can create amusing headlines and trick their pals into thinking they are real stories on a major Web site. The pals will get a chance to get even, Heineken promises.


8. Unreleased Teen Drinking Report Draws Charges of Bias

Knight Ridder Newspapers

July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON - Even before its release, a report on teen drinking has drawn charges of bias from the $110 billion-a-year alcoholic beverage industry, an intense lobbying campaign and congressional warnings not to interfere with the industry's marketing.


The pending report, by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine will assess current efforts to control underage drinking and propose some new ones.


It is expected to weigh, among other things, what additional taxes on alcohol and restrictions on advertising and marketing might do to teen drinking.


Studies indicate that underage drinking, especially binge drinking, is a persistent problem, and that illegal consumption of liquor may account for between 10 and 20 percent of total U.S. sales.


Activists fighting underage drinking hope, and some in the alcoholic beverage industry worry, that the report will spur aggressive anti-alcohol initiatives similar to anti-smoking campaigns.


The report, originally due out in June, is being reviewed by independent outside experts. Release is now expected in August or September.


Some industry groups say the NAS panel dismissed their input and ignored their members' programs to reduce teen drinking.


"Our industry probably spends tens of millions of dollars fighting underage drinking. We really try to get parents and educators involved. Those are proven methods that have worked," said Michelle Semones, a spokesperson for the National Beer Wholesalers Association.


The NAS report, she said, is focused instead on unproven tactics like raising taxes on alcohol.


The Beer Wholesalers, prominent in conservative Republican circles since the party's take-over of the House of Representatives in 1994, recently sponsored a letter to National Academy president Dr. Bruce Alberts signed by 134 lawmakers. The letter warned them against using the report to recommend "changes intended to adversely affect the beverage industry."


It cautioned specifically against any use of the report "to buttress new and untested theories to reduce illegal consumption."


A spokesman for the National Academy said Alberts had responded, assuring the lawmakers that the panel would proceed with integrity and that its findings would be subjected to outside peer review.


"What you're seeing in this fight is that the IOM has a proven track record for prompting change," said Jim O'Hara, executive director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University.


IOM's 1993 report on youth tobacco use, he said, served as a roadmap for states in dealing with underage smoking.


The current skirmish is part of a larger battle over how to deal with underage drinking. Alcohol is associated with the three leading causes of death in teenagers, accidents, homicides, and suicides, according to Sue Foster of the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. In addition, teens who drink are more likely to have risky sex and problems in school.


Though teen drinking has gone down since the 1980s, the decline masks some worrying trends, according to Foster.


Children are having their first drink earlier, on average at just under 13 years old. Research has shown that kids who have their first drink before 15 are four times as likely to become dependent on alcohol.


And the most recent survey, the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, showed that 10 percent of eighth-graders, 24 percent of 10th-graders and 40 percent of 12th-graders reported drinking in the last month.


A Health and Human Services study found that underage drinkers swallow 11 percent of the alcohol consumed in the United States. Another put the number as high as 20 percent.